May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears

Author Juho Toivola

Published 19.8.2021

Executive MBA

This blog post is part of a commercial collaboration between Henley Business School and Juho Toivola.

In preparation for my Executive MBA (EMBA) studies, I have made a mental division of the coming study years: 2021, 2022 and 2023. I’ve also reflected on my personal hopes and fears for this journey.

2021 is when things will ”get started”. The first four workshops of stage 1 from the Henley EMBA will take place from October to December in (so COVID-19 permits) various locations. This is when I need to form routines for active studying and get to know my fellow students.

The motto for 2022 will be ”time to grind”. I expect this year to be the most difficult one, from the perspective of balance and mental wellbeing. In 2022, I will have to complete the rest of stage 1 with many workshops and assignments, as well as the action-packed stage 2 in its entirety.

In 2023, the spirit of stage 3 will probably be ”finish what you started”, with two workshops and the final research project to complete. Currently my plan is to complete the programme in 21 months, but there is also and option for a 27-month track with more time to complete stage 3.


1. Growing a new relevant network

One of my biggest hopes for the Henley EMBA is to build a new relevant network of professionals from Finland and abroad. During my career so far the most important key to success has been connecting and collaborating with skillful individuals from different fields. This is what I expect to happen during the studies as well. Some of them might be my future clients, others I can collaborate with differently. Having access to their experiences and connections, and sharing my own reciprocally is something I eagerly expect.

2. Professional mission for the next 10 years

Although I get to work with interesting projects and fun clients, I’m still searching for a more meaningful and motivating mission for my professional activity. With Henley’s strong focus on values and social impact, I’m really hoping to renew my inspiration and aspiration for changing the world for the better. Ideally, this would be something where I can utilise my previous experience and studies in work and organisational psychology. Connecting human aspects of work life with a sustainable business plan would be ideal from my point of view.

3. Stronger foundation for business management

Probably the most transactional value that I’m hoping for is the skills and attitudes required to run a successful business. I’m particularly interested in gaining modern tools and frameworks for strategic and financial aspects of management and leadership. As a result, I expect to be more schooled in making companies grow and keeping them profitable. It’s not only about the knowledge but also about emotional skills such as dealing with uncertainty and risk.


1. Stress and mental health

My worst fear is that I won’t be able to enjoy the studies at all, and become stressed about the burdensome activities that are included. To avoid this, I’m actively cutting down other commitments to reserve enough time for the workshops and assignments that the programme entails. Even so, the time I have left after family and work commitments is limited. And I also need to reserve time for rest and recovery in order to keep things fun and relaxed.

2. Usefulness of studies

Another big fear is that the content of the studies will fall into the ”nice to know” category, without any immediate relevance or connection to my personal or business challenges. Here I will probably have to work actively in order to translate the newly gained knowledge to my current business context. There’s definitely work to be done in orientating to each study module from the perspective of my current work roles and challenges in my two companies, Asselmointi and Digital Minds.

3. Entrepreneur as an outlier

In my mind a typical EMBA participant is from corporate middle management. One of my fears is that as an entrepreneur I will stand out when the discussions will be around managing more complex operations. The resources at one’s disposal are very different when working for a bigger organisation – a luxury I don’t currently have. Luckily, I have worked in manager/director positions for two stock-listed companies so I have personal experience which I can use to relate to the more ”corporate” discussions.

Do you have experience of completing an EMBA? What do you think of my hopes and fears?

You can follow my EMBA journey through weekly updates with the hashtag #JuhoGoesEMBA on LinkedIn.

If you would like to learn more about the Henley EMBA:


Juho Toivola

Juho Toivola is Henley's Executive MBA graduate and brand ambassador. He's an organisational psychologist leading two Finnish companies, Asselmointi and Digital Minds. As a proud father of three small children, Juho lives an active life in the happy town of Lempäälä, Finland. He has shared his MBA journey from 2021 to 2023. #JuhoGoesEMBA